The floating wind farm off the coast of Groix and Belle-Ile-en-Mer, in Brittany (France), will no longer be built.
The Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has in fact announced in recent days the withdrawal of the pilot project, which had been launched together with the Banque des territoires (Caisse des dépôts et consignations) and the Chinese Cgn (China general nuclear power corporation). A project which, according to Shell, “has faced various technical, commercial and financial challenges, in a context of constantly increasing costs and very strong limitations in terms of inflation and the supply chain”, explained the oil company, according to the French newspaper Le Monde. Thus, the soaring prices of raw materials and the flare-up in energy costs have prevailed over the economic sustainability of the Groix-Belle-Ile park.
After the tender, the project for three wind turbines was awarded in 2016, at an estimated cost of 300 million euros.
Shell joined the consortium in 2019 by acquiring the company Eolfi, a former subsidiary of Veolia and a pioneer in floating wind energy. But in the meantime there has been a series of important defections: that of the US General Electric, which was supposed to supply pylons, turbines and blades and which was then replaced by the Japanese-Danish group Mhi Vestas offshore wind, which in turn withdrew. And that of the floating wind energy manufacturer Naval Group, which in early 2021 sold its business in the floating wind energy sector to the Italian Saipem.
For a project that is being abandoned, three more will be put into service within the next two years in the Mediterranean, respectively by Edf renouvelables, Engie and TotalEnergies, as underlined by the French ministry of ecological transition, recalling that France has been at the work to structure a strong floating wind supply chain, also counting on an excellent wind regime.
The bet of Paris, whose first marine wind farm (80 turbines on the seabed) has just started operating off the coast of Saint-Nazaire, in the Loire-Atlantique, is decidedly bold: to reach 40 gigawatts in 2050 and ensure up to 25% of final electricity consumption. But to obtain this result it will be necessary to grant investors and plant operators a fair price per megawatt hour, an essential condition for the profitability of such expensive projects.